Game Recaps presented by Wells Fargo
LOUISVILLE, KY (Sept. 24, 2016) — Chandler Hoffman cancelled out Brian Brown’s opening goal, as the Charlotte Independence (14-8-8) drew 1-1 with Louisville City FC (17-4-9) at Louisville Slugger Field in the 2016 USL regular-season finale.
Brown slid in to finish David Estrada’s cross on the stroke of halftime to give Charlotte a crucial lead. But Louisville equalized when Hoffman’s attempt bounced off Independence defender Henry Kalungi following John Berner’s initial save 17 minutes from fulltime.
With Saturday’s draw and Rochester’s 1-0 victory over Toronto earlier in the evening, the Independence slipped out of the top-four position needed to secure a home playoff game and instead will finish fifth and play at the Rhinos, the defending USL champions, on Oct. 1.
Joel Johnson had to keep Louisville City away from goal inside 35 seconds as he cleared away a dangerous cross from the right before Charlotte escaped again when Berner saw Cameron Lancaster’s shot roll beyond his left post after being found cleverly by Magnus Rasmusseninside 20 minutes.
After maintaining pressure on the Louisville City end, Estrada forced a save from keeper Greg Ranjitsingh at the near post following Patrick Slogic’s cross-field delivery. Slogic then nearly turned goal scorer when he hit Estrada’s cross first-time, as Ranjitsingh had to palm away the thumping effort in the 43rd minute.
But Brown gave the Independence an important lead when he poked in Estrada’s driving cross past an outstretched Ranjitsingh on the stroke of halftime for his ninth goal of the season.
Charlotte continued to mount pressure on the Louisville City goal after the break looking to double the advantage until substitute Andrew Lubahn, who pulled the ball from out of his feet, put an attempt on goal only to see Berner have it well covered on 56 minutes. Slogic then came across to deflect the ball of Hoffman, who was looking to break into the box by himself, to keep the lead in favor of Charlotte.
Louisville City equalized when Hoffman latched onto Kyle Smith’s cross from the right with the initial shot saved by Berner, but the rebound bounced off Kalungi and into the open net in the 73rd minute.
Charlotte nearly nudged back in front when Enzo Martinez’ cross came off a Louisville City defender before hitting Aly Hassan on its way on target, but the deflection was held by Ranjitsingh.
Jorge Herrera then thought he’d restored the lead in the first minute of stoppage time, but the midfielder was flagged for a questionable offside call by the linesman.
The Independence will now travel to Rochester, NY, to face defending USL champion the Rhinos in the USL quarterfinals on Saturday, Oct. 1. Kickoff is set for 6:05pm at Rhinos Stadium.
Louisville: Ranjutsingh, Montano (Newman 46), Morad, Reynolds, Smith, Quinn (Abend 67), Del Piccolo, Rasmussen (Ilic 46), Davis IV, Lancaster (Hoffman 46), Dacres (Lubahn 46).
Unused subs: Dobrowolski (GK), Kaye.
Goals: Hoffman (73).
Charlotte: Berner, Slogic (Metcalf 78), Duckett, Kalungi (Greenspan 86), Johnson, Davidson (Hassan 79), Hilton (Ekra 69), E. Martinez, Estrada, Brown, A. Martinez (Herrera 69).
Unused subs: Mizell (GK), Clowes.
Bookings: Davidson, Ekra.
Goals: Brown (44).
— Compiled by Allen Gunn, Charlotte Independence